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Why Do Ambulance Rides Cost So Much?

When you’ve been through a major illness or had an accident that resulted in an ambulance ride, it’s pretty common to experience sticker shock when you read through your medical bills and discover the price of that ambulance. Even when the ride is covered by your medical insurance, your co-pay and deductible can break the bank.

According to a report given to Congress by the Government Accountability Office, ambulance rides can cost anywhere from $224 to $2,204, and the costs can be even higher in rural areas.

So why are the costs so high, especially if you are only going a short distance? Some private ambulance companies estimate that 50-60 percent of their patients can’t pay their bills, so those costs are passed onto the patients who can pay. And for patients on Medicare who use ambulances, the government has limited how much they will reimburse the ambulance company. Any remaining costs are passed onto others.

But it’s also important to understand that emergency transportation has become a big business in the last few decades. One of the largest ambulance companies operates in 42 states and has annual revenues of $1.3 billion. There is little competition between companies, and in an emergency, you’re not likely to call several companies to compare prices. So in many cases, the companies are free to charge as much as they want.

The costs also include the salaries and training for the paramedics who are on call 24/7, costs for equipment and medication administered to you in the ambulance, and indirect costs for the ambulance and upgrades of equipment.

Many consumers find that they can negotiate with ambulance companies and get a break on the bill, especially if you are willing to pay immediately.

If you are overwhelmed with medical bills, our injury attorneys can help you get a fair settlement. Call us today at 816-842-6200 or toll-free at 877-520-6623 to speak with an attorney. Or you can email us and schedule your free consultation.


Jason C. Amerine
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President and Owner, Castle Law Office of Kansas City
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